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Can Art Help Children with Cerebral Palsy?

Throughout time, people have turned to art as a source of inspiration. By either creating or appreciating art, people have been able to find relief from stress, peace and joy.

Research indicates that art can also provide specific therapeutic benefits to children injured at birth who are now suffering from cerebral palsy.

A study published in a 2010 issue of the journal, Medical Science Monitor, selected a group of 14 children, with an average age of 15. All of the children had cerebral palsy with severe dysarthria, a motor speech disorder. All of the children were enrolled in four months of art therapy.

At the conclusion of the four-month period, all 14 children showed improvement.

The researchers observed “highly significant improvements” in overall intelligibility (or the ability to be understood) and “significant improvements” in tempo, volume and control of pauses during speech.

The study’s conclusion: Art therapy can improve speech difficulties in children with cerebral palsy even when language or speech is not the subject of the therapeutic interventions.

Additional Benefits of Art Therapy Could Impact Behavior, Satisfaction

In addition to the above scientific research, there also are numerous anecdotal cases online of children with cerebral palsy who have been helped with art.

Recently, a story from Fox News Latino highlighted the case of Tolkyn Sakbayeva, a 24-year old painter with cerebral palsy. Tolkyn showed a passion for drawing at an early age. However, due to her condition, she struggled to talk and walk – much less hold a pencil.

However, the article states, Tolkyn overcame her physical limitations by focusing on her love of art, and in particular, the works of Goya, Matisse, Cezanne and Picasso.

Through persistence and therapy, Tolkyn now has 30 pieces of her work on display in Barcelona in the exhibit, “Light of My Life.”

As Art Shop Therapy indicates, art therapy for special needs children such as those diagnosed with cerebral palsy can offer the power of transformation.

Art allows children of all abilities to overcome the need to succeed. It gives them the freedom to work without fear of failure. This can be a significant motivator for children with obstacles in their path.

Art teaches adaptability. Children in art therapy programs are encouraged to experiment with their abilities, to try different approaches and find what works best for them. It helps them accept that there are always different routes to the same destination. No route is necessarily better than the other.

Self-expression is another benefit of art therapy for children with cerebral palsy, as their art gives them a voice they may otherwise lack.

While there are many different cerebral palsy treatments available, art therapy is one that can be done with professionals or even at home with limited tools.

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